Your turn:  If your spouse passed away, would you be the primary
parent and guardian for your stepchildren?  If not, would you remain a
part of their lives?  What feelings come up for you in either situation?

While following other stepparenting blogs, especially those on my
blogroll (scroll down the middle column), I pick up thought-provoking
news and ideas.  In early December I was shocked to find out that one
of my fellow stepmoms and bloggers lost her husband to a heart
attack. Her husband’s boys were living with them. Talk about your
world changing overnight!  An immediate deep reaction of hurt and
despair ran through me when I read this post (and I do not know this
woman personally – only through the writing on her blog). 

At the first level, I could feel for the loss of a spouse and life partner. 
Then, because of my experience as a stepparent to children who have
already lost their mom to breast cancer, I worried about whether she 
wanted to remain the primary parent and guardian to her stepchildren. 
It didn’t even cross my mind that there could be
another outcome – that she would not be asked to keep her stepchildren. 

I compared her situation to my own. My stepchildren are now 22 and
almost 21.  But when I married Brian they were eight and six.  I am
not a person to let worry obscure every waking thought, but I did from
time to time wonder how I would handle my stepchildren (emotionally)
if Brian passed away. I did a lot of praying and trusting that we would
all remain safe and healthy. 

When the children were still young, Brian has asked me to adopt them
so that if something did happen to him, they wouldn’t become wards
of the state.  The kids agreed to let me do this.  So, early on, before
I’d really taken in the full import of stepparenting a grieving child, I
made a commitment to the kids which I would not have broken had
the situation occurred.  Let me just say that I am very, very thankful
that we’ve made it this far as a complete stepfamily.  Shepherding
the kids through another major loss in their lives may just have been
more than God thought I could handle.

Now Brittany and Ian are no longer minors.  But I still pray that we all
remain healthy – one, in general, and two, because the abandonment
overtones from the loss of one parent would, I feel, be greatly
magnified by the loss of the second. 

My fellow stepmom and blogger is now posting again, and has shared
her story. I find her a very, very brave woman who sincerely wanted
to keep and raise her stepchildren.  However, they were taken away
from her by the ex-wife’s relatives.  Her writing is beautiful, and if you
wish you can read that story here. 

Then come back and reflect upon where you stand on these issues.  I
encourage you to discuss this situation through with your spouse. 
Does he/she have a living will that specifies who will be the guardian
of his or her children?  What does your state law mandate about

There’s no better time than now to answer these questions in your
stepfamily.  No one plans to have anything life-changing happen. This
story’s reminder is simply to be prepared.

Mama J (Diane Fromme) is a writer, parent, and stepparent located in
Northern Colorado.  For more information on her stepparenting book,
go to


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